Recreational Rigging--Moving a knee mill.
March, 2012.

[Click on pictures to enlarge them]

So I was looking for a milling machine, and had just about decided on an RF-45 type mill when I was perusing Craig's List and saw an ad for a Jet JTM-4VS Bridgeport clone mill for not too much more than the RF-45.  I called about it, met a nice guy named Dave who used it for gunsmithing, but wanted to sell it to go back to school and start a new career.  The mill was less than five years old, and looked pretty well cared for.

Before I committed to buying the Jet, I wanted to check out the cost of moving it.   The 2420 pound machine had to come up the stairs out of Dave's basement shop and across town to my place.  The cost to get it to my garage amounted to about a third of the cost of the mill, which took me to the absolute limit of my budget for the project.  Unfortunately, my shop is also in my basement, which is up three steps to a tiled entryway, across 12 feet of oak strip floor, and down 16 steps to the basement, where the bottom riser is only about 36 inches from a facing wall.  

I didn't want to pass on the machine, so I decided to have the machine deposited in my garage, then I could take my time figuring out a way to get it to the shop myself, breaking it down if necessary.  If I got into trouble, I could still call the riggers back to rescue me.

Here it is in Dave's basement on moving day.  Dave and I had already removed the table and turned the head upside down to make it more compact.

I hired Wings Transfer in Omaha to do the move.  They brought seven guys but made the whole process look almost effortless.  It was obvious they knew what they were doing.  They had the mill on their truck in just a couple of hours.

Less than an hour after that, it was sitting in my garage:

The saddle and motor were light enough  that I could get them off without help.  I could tell when I removed the motor that there appeared to be a lot of grease on and around the drive belt and pulleys.  This didn't seem right.  I surmised later that it was because the head was upside down for a few days, and the grease flowed.

Next, the head with the variable speed drive system came off.  Since I was doing this job solo, I needed a skyhook for this.

The ram and turret were next:

Then the knee.  It must weigh close to 300 pounds.  It has to come up high enough to clear the column dovetails.  I had maybe an inch to spare before the boom would have hit the ceiling.

To get the bigger pieces down the stairs,  I fashioned a pair of wooden tracks screwed to the stairs, and a sled to run in the tracks.

I put the parts on the sled with the crane, and push the sled to the top of the stairs.

Then I lag bolted a hand winch through the floor into the framing below.  I did this in a place where I removed a threshold, so the holes would be covered.  The winch is a worm gear type rated for one ton.  The worm gear design is self-holding: there is no need for a ratchet or pawl mechanism to hold the weight.  The rug is on the cable to keep it from whipping in the unlikely case that it would snap.

At the bottom of the stairs, I had a come-along hanging from the ceiling framing to help get the piece from the sled to a dolly.

Here are all the parts in the shop except for the column:

This bad boy weighs close to 800 pounds.  I fashioned a custom sled to it before I tipped it on its side.  It had to go down the stairs on its side because of the limited room at the bottom.  The shape of the column base was the reason that the tracks on the stairs were offset to one side.

I don't have pictures of the column coming down the stairs because, frankly, I was a little busy, but here it is in the shop.  I was able to maneuver it around the shop by using pipes under the 4x4s under the base.

After fixing some dings and repainting the base, I moved it to the place I'd previously prepared, complete with a new dedicated 220 V circuit.  I had a heckofatime with incompatibility between the new paint and the filler that Jet used on the castings on this machine.  Anywhere the filler was exposed, the urethane paint would not dry.  Even a conventional primer didn't help.  I finally made it work by spot priming with Kilz, a product mainly used to keep staining from showing through new paint.

Reassembly was pretty much a reverse of the disassembly process:

The saddle has the feed nuts in it, and all of the one-shot lube lines to reconnect.

The table is another pretty substantial hunk of steel, and weighs well over 300 pounds.  It has to slide on from one end.

I mounted the spindle assembly by balancing it on the table and using the table and knee feeds to position it.

This manchine was new enough, and in such good shape, that I for the most part didn't really have to do anything to it or disassemble it any further than necessary to move it.  The exception was where grease had gotten where it shouldn't be.  This necessitated disassembling the parts of the head that included the Vari-Speed and back gear assemblies..  Here is the back gear cleaned up and repacked with fresh grease.

The rest of the head went on in order.

Another couple of days, and I got it wired, and the DRO, scales, lube system, X power feed, and the vise mounted.  Evereything seems to be workng fine. Next step will be to dial everything in and start making some chips.

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